Council back public hospital meeting

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Kincardine council has left it in the public’s hands to plot the future course of Kincardine’s hospital.

Councillor Ron Hewitt brought forward a motion Nov. 19 asking council to discuss what the next step is following last month’s health care stakeholders meeting. Hewitt wanted council to consider a public meeting to see how ratepayers think the municipality should proceed.

“The status quo is not working,” Hewitt said. “Our next option is to see what the public wants.”

Earlier in the meeting, the Friends of the Hospital, a renegade group seeking de-amalgamation from the South Bruce Grey Health Centre, told council it is holding a public meeting at the Davidson Centre Dec. 9. The meeting will be used to discuss the reality of separating from the hospital board.

“We have the people to make this work,” said group spokesperson Ian Mitchell. “Let’s form a local board of the highest quality in anticipation of our emancipation day.”

Friends of the Hospital have also enlisted the support of the Tiverton and District Ratepayers in its fight for changes in hospital management. Ratepayers’ representative Ed Roberts told council his group was in complete support of Mitchell and would be attending next month’s meeting.

“We need to solicit council’s support and take whatever action is necessary,” Roberts said. “Recent revelations have cast serious doubt on our board and something needs to be done to change it.”

Council has struggled to define its role in health care. Despite being a provincial responsibility, health care has become a major expense to the municipality and some councillors were glad to see the public taking charge of the issue.

“Council should take a step back here,” said councillor Ken Craig. “It’s an emotional issue and it’s not one council should be (making decisions on).”

Hewitt asked for council to support the public meeting set up by the Friends of the Hospital and most councillors agreed it was the best way to proceed.

“Change has to be made,” said councillor Randy Roppel. “The public has a right to speak and we have the right to support them.”

Mayor Larry Kraemer said he couldn’t support de-amalgamation without knowing more about what’s involved in the process. He urged concerned residents to buy a membership to the hospital board in order to have a more direct say on the decisions being made.

“To pay $5 to elect my board member isn’t going to do a whole lot of good,” said councillor Marsha Leggett. “Because, I don’t know what they will be saying behind my back.”

Leggett also had harsh words for Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell, who attended the October meeting.

“(Council) can have all the meetings we want, it’s not going to help us,” Leggett said. “Our MPP hasn’t done us justice at all. If people can show us what’s best for the community, do it.”

Councillor Mike Leggett drafted a motion of support for the upcoming public meeting. Council will vote on the issue at its first meeting next month.